Five finalists will vie for the $20,000 Local that Works grand prize

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Time to spill the beans on the finalists in the 2020 Local that Works contest!

Current received 133 entries this year. That’s more than last year’s contest, but fewer than we anticipated given the $20,000 grand prize. Perhaps everyone is swamped juggling work and home, covering the impact of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement in your communities and organizations.

Out of the 133 contest submissions, 60 were from public radio, 28 from public TV, 23 from joint-licensee public broadcasters and 22 from nonprofit news organizations. There were entries from stations as small as KZUM community radio and as large as WNYC.

We received a handful of repeat entries from previous years and love seeing how these ambitious projects have improved over time. The persistence of repeat entrants has paid off for previous winners. WDET­ nominated the photography storytelling project “Framed” in 2018 and in 2019, when the station won the grand prize.

I want to applaud WCLK based at Clark Atlanta University, an HBCU, for submitting six entries. Current recently reported on one WCLK initiative — a collaboration among Black radio stations to get out the vote.

So, now, meet the 2020 finalists (in alphabetical order):

  • Detroit Public TelevisionCOVID313, a series of town halls
  • KALW-FMUncuffed, a radio production training program inside prisons
  • KQEDCalifornia Reporting Project, a journalism collaboration investigating police misconduct
  • Maine Public The Learning Space, video lessons from state Teacher of the Year awardees
  • Sahan Journal — a nonprofit news startup amplifying the stories of immigrant communities in Minneapolis

Narrowing the field of 23 semifinalists to five was no easy task. I want to thank our amazing judges who did just that: Andrea Asuaje, Darryl Holliday, Bill Siemering, Christine Schmidt and Paul Buckner.

Soon you can help narrow the five finalists to one winner. We’ll be hosting a Local that Works grand finale Thursday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m., when participants will receive ballots to vote for the winner of the $20,000 grand prize. We’re thrilled to announce that Jenn White, new host of 1A, is our emcee. If you don’t already, subscribe to our newsletter or to Current and you’ll receive an invitation to the grand finale.

Current partnered with Mark Fuerst to create Local that Works as a way to engage our public media community and spotlight the innovative and replicable work happening on the local level. The initiative is generously supported by the Wyncote Foundation. We’ve also received generous support from many public media and journalism organizations that helped get the word out about this year’s contest. All of our partners understand that the future of public media is local.

Current is here to tell your stories, and Local that Works helps us do that. All submissions from 2020 will soon be added to the beautiful new database on our website, and Current will certainly mine those entries for stories to share.

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